Heading out on a weekend fishing trip? Hitting the water with the skis? Going for a leisurely sail? Boating is increasingly popular and given we are in a country surrounded by water, this is no real surprise. Whether it is the river, lake or ocean, being out on the water is an excellent way to while the time away.
Some important tips for being a safe skipper:
- Complete a trip preparation checklist before you go.
- Make sure you are carrying the right safety gear, that it is easy to access and that you know how to use it. This is essential.
- Do regular maintenance checks on your boat.
- All boats need to carry life jackets for all passengers and crew. Make sure you know in what instances you need to be wearing your life jacket (this may depend on your location), and that it meets approved safety standards.
- Take enough fuel for your return trip plus some extra (at least 50% more than you think you will need).
- Know what you are up against. Check forecasts and monitor weather warnings. Don’t go out if storms are forecast and warnings are current.
- Local knowledge helps – conditions on the water can change drastically. Rivers and lakes can quickly become dangerous in low water levels.
Stay in touch:
- Tell someone where you are going and when you plan on being back.
- Use your radio stay in touch with a coastal radio base.
- Always take it slowly – go at a speed that allows you to stop quickly and avoid last minute hazards like submerged rocks.
- Follow navigation markers.
- Stay within the boating channel.
- Know the rules, like who gives way to who, and carry a current boat license.
- Maintain a safe distance away from swimmers and other vessels.
- Observe speed limits.
- Don’t drink – blood alcohol levels apply same as on the road.